Our Research

To determine the best schools, we took into account the physical features of the campus as well as the average number of sunny days per year. We also considered the availability of hiking trails, waterfront views, and mountain views.

We only included schools in this guide that have been accredited by institutions such as the Higher Learning Commission, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. No matter how nice a college looks, you’ll want to make sure that it’s accredited — this ensures that the program has high academic standards and that your credits will be accepted by another program if you decide to transfer to another college.

  • 26 hours to write this article
  • 63 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 114 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Most Beautiful Campuses

Most Beautiful Campuses Badge
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What You Should Know About Finding a Beautiful Campus

Beauty is objective, of course. An attractive campus to one student may look rather unpleasant to another. For example, if you like the classic look of Gothic architecture, you should consider schools such as Georgetown, Duke, and Sewanee. But if that style is too old-fashioned for your taste, you should check out more modern designs such as the sustainable architecture of Lewis & Clark College.

Natural attractions are another factor to consider. Campuses that are located next to a coast or nestled within a mountain range tend to offer amazing views.

Consider taking weather into account as well. After all, it’ll be difficult to truly enjoy the beauty of your campus if it’s often raining or overcast outside. This is one of the main reasons why the Santa Fe campus of St. John’s College ranks so highly on our list — it’s hard to beat Santa Fe’s average of 325 sunny days per year.

What’s Next?

Dozens of schools offer exceptionally beautiful campuses — how will you choose which option is best for you? Here are a few tips that should help you make your decision:

  • Take a tour. A campus might look great on a college’s website but feel much less impressive when you’re actually there. For any college that you’re strongly considering, you should contact the school’s admission office and arrange a guided tour. That way, you can confirm that the college looks just as good in person as it does online.
  • Explore the areas near campus as well. After your tour, you should take the time to check out what the region around the campus has to offer. Easy access to attractions such as hiking trails and state parks can make a beautiful campus even more appealing.
  • Research the climate. If you happened to take a tour of a campus on a day with perfect weather, this might give you an inaccurate impression of what it’s really like to live there. This is an especially big concern if you’re taking a tour during the summer, as many regions with mild summers have miserable winters. Take advantage of resources such as Climate-Data.org to get the full picture of a campus’s weather.
  • Think beyond beauty. Of course, you shouldn’t make your decision about where to go to college based on the beauty of the campus alone. You’ll also need to consider what you plan to major in, if you want to stay close to home, and many other factors. To help you find a beautiful campus that works for your specific situation, we’ve highlighted a unique feature for each school included in our guide (Most Beautiful in the South, Best for Computer Science, etc.).